Time spent staring into a screen creates significant changes in our brain chemistry due to the release of dopamine; the reward chemical. Dopamine is produced when we encounter something that is interesting or new and is the neurochemical responsible for most addictions. Aside from the neurochemical impact, too much screen time has also been linked to:
- Behavioral habits
- Sleep disorders
- Loss of social skills
- Less time for play
Extensive research exists… How much screen time is healthy at various ages for children? While there are no “one size fits all” guidelines, and additional information is coming out all the time, most sources agreed upon these recommendations:
- YOUNGER THAN 18 MONTHS: discourage use of screen time/devices other than video chatting.18-24 MONTHS: select high-quality programming/apps, especially those with educational value, and view with parent (i.e., co-viewing)
- PRESCHOOLERS: limit screen time/devices to one hour per day with co-viewing.
- 5-18 YEARS OLD: set limits on screen time/devices and encourage device-free healthy activities. These can include physical games (e.g., play and sports), social interaction with friends and family, and school work. Also, implement device-free zones at the dinner table and bedrooms.